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Chloe Dygert surprised by TT performances at Virtual Joe Martin Stage Race

Chloe Dygert on her way to winning the time trial at the 2019 UCI Road World Championships
Chloe Dygert on her way to winning the time trial at the 2019 UCI Road World Championships (Image credit: Getty Images)

Chloe Dygert (Twenty20 Pro Cycling) finished in 26th place and a minute and a half down in the opening time trial at the Virtual Joe Martin Stage Race on Friday. The time trial world champion said she was 'impressed' by the strong performances by her competitors in the 8km event won by Australian time trial champion Sarah Gigante, with Lauren Stephens (both TIBCO-SVB) in second place. Dygert's teammate Courtney Nelson was third.

"It was very interesting," Dygert laughed in the post-race interview. "I think all these women need to go to the World Championships. This is great. They need to show up to Worlds because that was very impressive."

Dygert won the time trial at the 2019 UCI Road World Championships last September with a dominant performance that saw her put more than a minute and a half into Dutch favourites Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten.

The Virtual Joe Martin Stage Race is using the Zwift platform where the opening stage was held on the notorious Bologna uphill time trial route that finishes on the ascent of the Madonna di San Luca. The stage was intended to mimick the Devil's Den time trial at the Joe Martin Stage Race.

The climb started with roughly 2km to go with a 10 per cent gradient and then increased to 12 per cent and then 15 per cent near the top.

The riders started the 8km time trial together and groups formed on course. However, each rider was using a time trial bike and the drafting functions were switched off for the duration of this event.

Dygert started the race at 6w/kg and quickly stormed to the top of the leaderboard in the time trial. Her power looked to have dropped to roughly 4-5 w/kg as her rivals gained some time back, pushing upwards of 6w/kg.

Two kilometres into the time trial, Dygert was caught and passed by Rachael Elliott (Femme Equipe), whose power ranged between 5.2-6w/kg. Elliott is a time trial specialist from Great Britain. In 2018, she suffered a stroke while Zwifting that she said was caused by a large bleed in the centre of her brain at the end of the brainstem. Elliot currently competes in tandem racing as stoker.

Dygert held a steady power of about 5.3 w/kg but dropped to third place after four kilometres of racing. 

"That was very, very impressive," Dygert said when asked what she thought when she was caught by multiple riders during the race. "I was, on those flats, holding [power] maybe a little under what I was at World Championships, so very, very impressive riding."

Once the riders hit the notorious Bologna ascent at six-kilometres into the race on the Zwift platform, Elliot reached the base of the climb first, and Dygert dropped down to sixth place.

On the climb, higher power came from riders Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-SVB), who had also raced the V-Series Women's Tour third and final stage earlier in the morning.

Lauren De Crescenzo (Amy D Foundation), who briefly held the Everesting women's record, moved into the lead on the climb at 6.6 kilometres. However, Stephens and her TIBCO-SVB teammate Sarah Gigante consistently pushed between 6-7w/kg on the steeper slopes of the climb and moved to the front in the last kilometre of racing, both at times pushing more than 7w/kg, crossing the finish line in first and second place. 

"I think it comes down to Zwift experience, as well, I'd say," Dygert said, "but, again, I guess I don't really know what to say - very impressive riding."

Courtney Nelson (Twenty20) finished in third with Dygert finishing down in 26th place at 1:37 back.

"Super awesome and great ride from my teammate," Dygert said. "Looking forward to going into tomorrow with them up there on GC."

The Virtual Joe Martin Stage Race continues on stage 2 with a 71km (44mi) road race on the Sand and Sequoias course on Zwift's Watopia world on Saturday.

"It'll be a fun one. I'm looking forward to it," Dygert said.

Watch Virtual Joe Martin Stage Race live streaming on Cyclingnews.

Virtual Joe Martin Stage Race stage 1 - replay

Brief Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sarah Gigante (TIBCO/SVB) 0:15:14
2Lauren Stephens (TIBCO/SVB) 0:00:03
3Courtney Nelson (Twenty20) 0:00:15
4Kristen Faulkner (TIBCO/SVB 0:00:18
5Emilly Johnston (TaG Cycling) 0:00:22
6Rachael Elliott (Femme Equipe) 0:00:26
7Lauren De Crescenzo (Amy D Foundation) 0:00:29
8Andrea Ramirez (Agolico) 0:00:32
9Lizi Duncombe (Vision) 0:00:39
10Katheryn Curi (Amy D Foundation) 0:00:42